Rahul Sharma, the old man of Hong Kong cricket, has announced his retirement from all international cricket, effective from after the last match of the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament in Darwin.
The 47-year-old Sharma, who made his international debut for Hong Kong in 1993 against Thailand, making a century, has played over 100 games for Hong Kong scoring approximately 20 centuries. His highest score of 167 came against Thailand at the Tuanku Ja'afar Cup in 1995 but he rates his 148 not out against Nepal at the 2000 ACC Trophy in Sharjah as his best innings. He was named the 'Player of the Tournament' at the 2000 ACC Trophy.
As a bowler, Sharma claimed many victims with his leg-spinners but his best figures of six wickets for three runs (including two hat-tricks) came against Japan at the 1998 ACC Trophy in Malaysia.
Sharma played 13 matches for Hong Kong at the ICC Trophy, scoring 401 runs at an average of 30.84, with 3 half-centuries and a highest score of 98.
Sharma captained Hong Kong in numerous tournaments from 2001 to 2004, including the 2004 Asia Cup where Hong Kong played full internationals with ODI status against Pakistan and Bangladesh. He holds the rather dubious record for being the oldest player in a full ODI match (in the same match that Nadeem Ahmed earned the record for being the youngest player), achieved against Pakistan in 2004.
Rahul Sharma finishes his career as the most capped player at the Hong Kong International Cricket Sixes appearing for Hong Kong in all nine tournaments played between 1994 and 2006.
He received the prestigious 'Hong Kong Cricketer of the Year' award in 1998-99.
Before coming to Hong Kong, Sharma played his cricket in India, representing Delhi in the Ranji Trophy.
Asked why he had chosen this time to announce his retirement, Sharma said "I felt it was the right time. I can no longer commit my time to playing international cricket for Hong Kong. I'd like to spend more time with my family." He added, "I've achieved all that I wanted to as a player. The 2000 ACC Trophy in Sharjah was a highlight for me. I would have liked to go out on a winning note, but alas that wasn't to be in this tournament. I've really enjoyed playing for Hong Kong but now it is time to focus on other things in my life."
Sharma will continue to play in domestic cricket for Kowloon Cricket Club.